IESF suspends Russian membership after Ukraine request

IESF suspends Russian membership after Ukraine request

23 January 2024

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, the International Esports Federation (IESF) has allowed Russian players to compete in affiliated tournaments and events under a neutral flag. At the 2022 IESF World Championships, for example, they were allowed to compete under strict conditions, which included prohibitions on the display of the Russian flag and the making of nationalistic quotes.

Now, the International Esports Federation has also moved to suspend the membership of the Russian Esports Federation (RESF), after the latter violated the former’s statutes by opening branches and organizing activities in territories that are considered to be under temporary occupation in Ukraine. The IESF held online meetings with both the RESF and the Ukrainian Esports Federation (UESF), with the Ukrainian side requesting a suspension of the Russian membership of the IESF as a consequence of their violations. After hearing both parties and conveying a secret ballot, the IESF decided to suspend the RESF’ membership.

Participation under neutral flag

The suspension of the RESF as a member of the International Esports Federation will remain in effect until at least the next General Assembly of the organization. There, all full members will have the chance to cast their vote on what to do next with the suspension. The options include moving to a complete suspension, restoring the RESF’ membership in full, or postponing the decision until the cause of the suspension is resolved. Meanwhile, Russian esports teams and players can still compete in IESF tournaments and events, as long as they play under a neutral flag and adhere to the specific IESF conditions.

“After careful consideration of the facts, the IESF Board held a secret ballot and decided to suspend RESF's membership in good standing”, the International Esports Federation writes on its own website, “However, in line with best practices and international norms, such as the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Olympic Charter on Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Origin and the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the IESF Council has adjusted the recommendation of the IESF Membership Committee, allowing players from all countries to take participation in competitions under neutral conditions represented by the IESF flag. This decision is aimed at protecting athletes and ensuring the participation of all IESF members.”

Esports and Ukraine

It’s not the first time that a major player in the international esports arena has shown support for Ukraine in the ongoing war with Russia. Back in April of 2022, just a month or so after the start of the Russian invasion, Epic Games, the studio behind popular titles like Fortnite, announced they had raised an incredible $ 36 million in just 24 hours to support the Ukrainian resistance effort. The amount was the result of the studio’s decision to donate two weeks’ worth income from Fortnite to various charities that are currently providing support and relief for the millions of civilians currently trapped in the Ukraine, including UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and Direct Relief.